Essential, non-citizen travelers crossing U.S. land borders will be required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning on Jan. 22, according to the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce.
Restrictions against non-essential travel at the U.S.-Mexico border eased up earlier this month to allow for fully vaccinated travelers to cross for non-essential activities, such as tourism and family visits. The restrictions prohibiting non-essential travel were imposed from March 2020 to November 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Essential workers have been permitted to continue crossing the border regardless of their vaccine status.
When the U.S.-Mexico border reopened Nov. 8 to vaccinated non-essential travelers, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it would eventually apply the same vaccinate mandate to travelers who crossed the border for essential reasons, such as trade, work, school and medial appointments.
The deadline was originally set for Jan. 1 but now has been extended to Jan. 22, according to the Otay Mesa business organization and a report by the Associated Press, citing a senior White House official. U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not respond to a request for confirmation on Saturday.
The senior administration official told the AP that the requirement brings the rules for essential travelers in line with those that took effect earlier this month for non-essential travelers.
The new mandate will apply to foreigners crossing the border for essential reasons, including Mexican truck drivers, aid workers and health workers.
The rules pertain only to non-U.S. nationals. American citizens and permanent legal residents may still enter the U.S. regardless of their vaccination status. The Biden administration reportedly pushed back the deadline for the mandate to prevent disruptions in vital North American trade.
Israel Delgado, the regional vice president of the National Chamber of the Trucking Industry, or CANACAR, in Mexico, said among the 5,500 drivers in the association, the vast majority have already been vaccinated.
“We’ve been getting data from all the trucking companies to see what the percentage of drivers who have been vaccinated already is and what we can see is that about 80 to 85 percent are already ready to go,” said Delgado.